From Bald to Badass in 2.5 Years

I have not written much about the experience of breast cancer. Chemo brain is a very serious and unsettling side effect for someone who likes to play with words. I lost about 75% of my vocabulary and communication was nearly impossible. I cried, a lot, and fought back by reading the dictionary and my thesaurus. Thankfully, I have gotten most of my words back. I cannot begin to describe the joy of being able to play with words again.

Anyway, here are some before, during and after photos.

DSCN0300This was taken about 7 months before I was diagnosed. We were at MFM and this was the last year before the con moved to the new hotel. I was completely bald the next year at MFM and had just gotten home from a 14 day stay on the Oncology Ward at Baptist Hospital.

DSCF4594This is me with my soul sister, Giddy Kitty, on the night Exene, Mike Dees and Jason Pulley played a benefit at Murphy’s to try to keep me afloat. I’d just lost my childhood home but I ended up in a fantastic home with an awesome family. This photo was taken in November of 2010.

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I almost always wore short hair before so some friends who have not seen me in a while will be surprised how long it is now and how curly it came back.

GypsyCat Dreams 057My best friend, Heathen, took this photo and there is no telling what smart-ass thing was about to come out of my mouth.

GypsyCat Dreams 059This is the gorgeous barrette my friend Jesse gave me for my birthday last year from the Ornamental Metal Museum. I love the way the color works in contrast with my hair.

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Excerpts from a letter to a friend…

It is early Sunday afternoon. The sun is shining, the wind is blowing, and the temp is perfect with a hoodie. Everything is quiet except for the wind in the trees, the wind chime behind me, and the birds above. It is so peaceful and serene. I’m sitting on the brick border of the bed along the shed and watching the flower heads dance on their stems in the wind while the chimes play us a song and the birds sing along. These images are what make me want to write children’s books and blog about gardening. I haven’t written much in such a long time. The chemo stole about 75% of my vocabulary and I was in a dark place for a long time. Finding my words and feeling the desire to write again fills me with a kind of bliss. Life isn’t perfect but it is a work in progress. The most important thing is that I am living life now instead of some unknown time in the future.

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This is my favorite part of spring. The weather is still a little unpredictable and some days are still on the cool side. In between the winter storms that start pushing summer weather our direction and those tornado storms (right before the hell that is summer in the South), there are a few perfect spring days. Days like today. Every spring I have always let the back yard grow a bit taller than I should. I love all those different shades of green as everything bursts into chaotic life. And, I can never cut the grass too early because it would be a crime to behead thousands of regal wild violets.

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Today is a Zen day. A spring breeze in my hair, the sun on my face, the song of nature in my ears. I used to be afraid of happiness. Learning to let go has been the hardest lesson to learn and the most valuable.

Sweet & Savory Fruit Salad

I’ve been meaning to post this for weeks. Tia, Tim & I have been going to VH Foods for most of our produce lately. This salad is what I put together with the produce from our first trip there.

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Ingredients: Watermelon, Papaya, Mango, Cucumber, Red Onion, Tomatoes, and Cilantro.

Each individual serving is topped with fresh avocado tossed in lemon juice. And, I add a few drops of Chipotle Cholula Sauce but pepper sauce on melon is not for everyone.

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We made one large serving topped with a whole avocado and nibbled on it while we tended to the rest of our Hearth Sunday food prep. We are eating like this a lot more often. I’m losing weight and feeling much better. What you eat does make a difference.

If you guys try this, let me know what you think.

Happy Eating & POLO!!!

Earning the “Pioneer Woman” Badge

A couple of months ago our neighbors on the south side lost a large limb from a pecan tree which landed on their house and the neighbors on the other side of them. There was thankfully no damage to either house but it was a rather large mess. The tree trimming crew gave us a bit of the wood for the fire pit in the back yard and we were thrilled. About a week later another crew showed up to take down the entire tree. They had to take down the power lines on that property to safely down the tree and asked if they could charge equipment from our garage. In exchange they offered more fire wood but I know these companies earn money from selling the wood for lumber so I told them they could just throw a few pieces over the fence. When I returned home from a doctor appointment there was an entire tree in two piles along the fence row. Apparently, the crane broke down and they were unable to lift the large logs out of the backyard.

We planned a chainsaw party for Saturday but could not get the gas chainsaw working and the small electric one was not powerful enough for the job. Michael and Matt attempted to rent a power splitter but there were none available on short notice. We decided to forge ahead. The guys split as much wood as possible by hand while we girls stacked the wood, cut the front and back lawn and hacked away at the holly bushes.

A good thunderstorm halted progress and hailed cocktail hour. We were all exhausted but the sense of accomplishment made it all worthwhile.
Next Saturday we are renting a power splitter so we can get the entire tree finished. The second pile is further down the fence and in the exact spot we plan to put the garden shed (or as Tia and I call it, the bad ass woman cave).

Sunday the four of us had a lovely brunch here at the house and relaxed. Good friends, good food, good music, and a foot spa day. It was lovely and just what we needed to round out the weekend. This is the most safe, happy, sane home environment I have ever lived in and I love being part of this family.